Santa, Enfield Elves Collect Toys
Alicia Vasquezi warns her daughter, Brianna Joyce, 6, to improve her behavior or Santa Claus (played by Logan Trombley, 13), won’t bring Christmas presents this year. Vasquezi came to Huse Park in Enfield yesterday so her daughters could see Santa, who was helping Enfield firefighters collect donations of toys and clothing for the needy. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Beth Felix, right, organizer of the Enfield Fire Department toy collection, talks with Assistant Fire Chief Robert Pollard Sr. and his wife, Barbara, who stopped at Huse Park in Enfield yesterday to drop off a donation. Firefighters will continue the drive today from 8 a.m. until dark. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Logan Trombley, 13, gets help from his father, Enfield firefighter Scott Trombley, as he gets into costume to wave down cars at the fire department's toy collection in Enfield's Huse Park. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Enfield — The trailer, after about three hours, was half full. Sealed cardboard boxes full of plush animals served as a base for bags full of winter clothes. Toys, wrapped in their plastic and cardboard casings, sat on top of the pile.
Outside, facing Route 4, Santa Claus waved, flanked all the while by elves wearing Enfield Fire Department turnouts. At times, Mrs. Claus waved, too. Cars drove past them, past Huse Park, past the red trailer full of toys, the sign on its side advertising the fire department’s first-ever Christmas toy drive.
But some cars pulled up to the curb or into the park’s parking lot with gifts at the ready, and it didn’t take long to pack one side of the trailer with stuff. The fire department had set up shop at 8 a.m. yesterday, said Beth Felix, who helped organized the event, just across the parking lot from the Enfield-Mascoma Lions Club’s annual Christmas tree sale. They left at about 5 p.m.
They’ll be there all day today, as well, collecting toys and clothes — everything is accepted and acceptable — that will ultimately find their way back to needy children in Enfield, from babies to high schoolers.
“We can’t leave them out,” said firefighter John Nugent, referring to the older set of kids in need. “It’s Christmas.”
Felix, the president of the Enfield Village School’s PTA, said that about 70 children in the town may not get Christmas presents this year without some sort of outside help. In the past, the fire department — of which her husband and son are members — has given to Toys for Tots. This year, the gifts will be given to social workers in the Mascoma Valley Regional School District, who will then distribute them as necessary.
Though many of the gift-givers pulled up to the curb to drop off a toy, some pulled into the parking lot. At one point, a car parked, and Cathy Bean stepped out, her two daughters, Olivia and Grace, behind her.
“They have stuff they bought with their own money,” Bean said.
Olivia, 10, handed over a copy of Boy, by Roald Dahl. Grace, 7, donated a friendship bracelet kit. They then helped themselves to a nearby table full of cookies.
Cathy Bean said, as her daughters chewed, that the three of them went specifically to the store to buy gifts to donate.
“They’re kind like that,” she said.
Grace said she figured kids would want Barbie dolls, arts-and-crafts sets and beads. Olivia said she chose Boy because of how funny it was.
The two gifts, plus a donation of snow pants from Bean, were added to the pile. As noon approached, the individual toy donations became a dusting atop the cardboard boxes (stuffed animals donated by the West Lebanon Kohl’s) and shopping bags full of winter coats, hats and mittens (courtesy of the Gap outlet a few stores over).
The townspeople’s donations included various types of sporting equipment, toy log cabins, arts-and-crafts kits and a Frankie Stein doll. (She’s the daughter of Frankenstein, and she goes to Monster High, as Frankenstein’s offspring do.)
There was more — board games and pirate ships, gloves and hats — piled high on one side of the trailer. Fire Chief David Crate pulled into the parking lot, and walked over to it.
“Holy cow,” he said.
More cars went by as mid-morning became early afternoon. Many honked. Children and adults waved at Santa and his crew of North Pole helpers. When the car flow slowed down, Scott Trombley began to dance in the street.
“Get out of the road, Santa,” Nugent yelled out.
He did. Soon after, a woman pulled over to the side of the road by the firefighters. She told Felix that a small cash donation was all she could afford to give, and handed her two $1 bills.
Felix walked back toward the trailer full of gifts. The woman inched her car forward, called for Santa, and spoke quietly to Trombley as he poked his head inside the passenger-side window. After a moment, she drove off.
Trombley said she told him she needed a job, a home and a car — she may soon lose the one she was driving. He said he’d put in a good word.
“And she still gave a couple of bucks,” Felix said.
Jon Wolper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3248.